KMT still managed to put up a good fight

January 15, 2020 13:06
Kuomintang candidate Han Kuo-yu lost in the presidential race, but the votes he and his party got in the Jan. 11 elections suggest that their support base remains largely intact. Photo: Reuters

Taiwan's presidential and legislative elections have drawn to a close, with President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) winning a record 8.17 million votes to secure a second term.

Tsai defeated her major rival, Kaohsiung mayor and Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Han Kuo-yu, with a comfortable margin of 2.65 million votes.

The DPP also succeeded in maintaining its majority of seats in the Legislative Yuan, thereby putting to rest apprehensions about the prospect of Tsai becoming a lame-duck president with a minority government.

At first glance, what we have here is a landslide victory for the DPP and a crushing defeat for the opposition KMT.

However, if we take a closer look at the results breakdown, we can tell that things actually don’t look that bad for the KMT, suggesting that there is room for the opposition party to stage a major comeback in the future.

For example, although Han only took 5.52 million votes, lagging far behind President Tsai, he was far more popular than his partymate and former presidential candidate Eric Chu Li-luan, who only garnered 3.8 million votes in the 2016 election.

In other words, presidential votes for the KMT this time were up 1.72 million from four years ago; this is definitely not an insignificant increase.

As for the “party votes” – Taiwan has a system of proportional representation to determine how the 34 non-constituency seats in the Legislative Yuan are divided among all the political parties that take part in the election – the DPP won 4.81 million or 33.98 percent while the KMT took 4.72 million  or 33.36 percent.

As we can see, the DPP and KMT are neck and neck when it comes to popularity among voters. And both parties won 13 non-constituency seats in the Jan. 11 election.

As Charles Chen I-hsin, a KMT non-constituency lawmaker-elect, has pointed out, the number of party votes which the KMT won in this election indicates that its support base remains largely intact.

As such, despite having lost the election, the KMT still managed to put up a good fight, which means it isn’t entirely impossible for the party to turn the tables on the DPP in four years’ time.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 14

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal